June 16, 2009

Does EPA Have the Wrong Gas?

Over at MasterResource.org is an article looking at EPA’s Proposed Endangerment and Cause or Contribute Findings for Greenhouse Gases Under Sections 202(a) of the Clean Air Act, and wonders whether or not the EPA has set its sight on the correct gas. The EPA’s focus seems to be on carbon dioxide, but a very strong case can be made that the net effect of increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations may not be so bad (in fact, it may be quite good). So instead of risking the possibility that if they consider the climate impacts of CO2 alone they very well may not be able to build a case for an “endangerment to public health or welfare,” the EPA has lumped CO2 together with five other greenhouse gases thus watering down the positive aspects of CO2 with the potential negative ones from the other gases.

The MasterResource piece argues that to make a fair assessment of its effect on climate, CO2 should be unlumped and considered on its own.




June 10, 2009

Sulfates and Global Warming

Usually when we think of global warming, we are led to believe that it is caused primarily by increasing greenhouse gases. After all, that is what all the fuss is about in Washington DC these days. But is that entirely true?

After all there are lots of other things going on all the while. For instance, to what degree has the global temperature record in recent decades been influenced by the variability in aerosol emissions?

This question has been the subject of a series of articles in recent years by Martin Wild and colleagues which look at the impacts of (primarily sulfate) aerosols on the earth’s climate. They typically conclude that sulfate aerosols play a larger role in multi-decadal climate fluctuations than the climate models generally give them credit for. And that models’ inability to properly handle the climate aspects of aerosols “may hamper the predictive skills of these models to project near future climate evolution.”

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